Planning Powerful Senior Year Schedules
This is prime time for helping high school juniors pick their pivotal senior year schedules. Below are several tips to help guide you and your students through this key process as the rigor of a student’s high school experience is a core factor in the college admission’s process. Please remember that colleges are looking for academically committed and passionate students and that senior years should be the peak of their high school experience not a plateau or downhill slope. Our tips include how to help students select their schedules as well as other tips for making their academic experiences powerful throughout their senior years of high school.
- Design powerful senior year schedules. Even though the University of California and Cal States campuses do not see their applicants’ senior year grades usually until the end of senior year, these colleges do require students to
- Complete their A-G requirements with Cs or higher. They no longer allow students to make up any missed or failed classes the summer after senior year.
- Take as many AP and honors classes as they can do well in as universities award credit for the number of AP and honors classes taken, including those taken during senior year.
- Do well senior year, as some UCs and most private colleges ask to see fall of senior year grades.
- Take hard and challenging classes as colleges are seeking students who will academically thrive on their campus. We often get asked is it better to get an A in a regular class or a B in an AP class. Admissions officers usually say we want the A in the AP class. Seriously, colleges want students who will engage actively in an incredible academic experience on their campuses.
- Drop at most one course class, if students drop any at all. We all know students who complete their math or language requirements in 11th grade and are finished in their minds with these classes. Remind them that
- Colleges want students to take a rigorous senior year, so if they drop one content area, they should pick up another. Most do not understand light senior year schedules.
- Students will need to take placement tests at most colleges in English, math, and foreign languages. So if they do not take a class senior year in that field, it will be even harder for them to take the placement tests, which means the one class they don’t take senior year can lead to two or more classes in that content in college.
- Follow academic interests and passions. Senior year is a great time to take electives and explore some content areas in greater depth. This is a great time to go deeper in fields that intrigue students as they can write about these experiences in college application essays that ask them about their academic interests.
- Take college classes. Many students may want to experience classes at the college level. They can take college classes during the summer after junior year or even take MOOCS from MIT or Stanford. Universities value students who take college classes, even those for no credit as they demonstrate intellectual vitality. Students who run out of math or science classes can take higher level classes at community colleges for free in California; they only need to cover their book expenses.
- Get an internship or job. If students do not have a full schedule, encourage them to find a senior-year internship or job, especially if their school days end early. Many organizations and companies will hire high school seniors, and colleges really value students with these kinds of experiences.
- Make up any earlier failures or missed courses. Many students mature over their high school years and need to make up for 9th or 10th grade failed or missing classes. Many ESL students need to finish all of their English classes or other college readiness classes. All of these students should ideally take or make up these classes up before senior year, so they need to plan out summer school this summer very strategically. If necessary, they need to include any remaining classes during senior year, so they can prove to colleges that will meet all academic requirements.